My Father the Spy
An Investigative Memoir
By John H. Richardson
(Harper Perennial, Paperback, 9780060510367, 314pp.)
Publication Date: August 2006
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As his father nears death in his retirement home in Mexico, John H. Richardson begins to unravel a life filled with drama and secrecy. John Sr. was a CIA "chief of station" on some of the hottest assignments of the Cold War, from the back alleys of occupied Vienna to the jungles of the Philippines—and especially Saigon, where he became a pivotal player in the turning point of the Vietnam War: the overthrow of South Vietnamese president Ngo Dinh Diem. As John Jr. and his sister came of age in exotic postings across the world, they struggled to accommodate themselves to their driven, distant father, and their conflict opens a window on the tumult of the sixties and Vietnam.
Through the daily happenings at home and his father's actions, reconstructed from declassified documents as well as extensive interviews with former spies and government officials, Richardson reveals the innermost workings of a family enmeshed in the Cold War—and the deeper war that turns the world of the fathers into the world of the sons.
“A beautiful, gracious act of connection with a man who kept his secrets.”
Readers will not only find absorbing narratives but also the early signs of America’s now highly contentious culture wars.
An exceptional work ... about a man ... whose family album is pasted into a book of American history.
A passionately researched and engaging memoir...poignantly distanced.
-New York Times Book Review